Published: Wed, July 18, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Eritrea president arrives in Ethiopia amid marching bands and red carpets

Eritrea president arrives in Ethiopia amid marching bands and red carpets

Afwerki's visit to Ethiopia, the first in more than 20 years, capped a month of fast moving developments meant to break the hostilities between the two countries since they fought a bloody border war from 1998-2000, which killed an estimated 70,000 people from both sides.

Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki is visiting Ethiopia for the first time since the start of the two countries' border war in 1998.

Thousands of Ethiopians lined the streets of Addis Ababa singing and chanting, wearing makeup with Eritrean and Ethiopian symbols or T-shirts with images of Afwerki and Ahmed.

"Thank you for the genuine love that you all showed us", Isaias said. "No one can steal the love we have regained now".

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Eritrea has reopened its embassy in Ethiopia.The reopening Monday came a week after the two countries declared an end to two decades of a military stalemate over a border war in which tens of thousands of people died.

It is clear that not everyone in Ethiopia takes too kindly President Isaias Afewerki's arrival on Ethiopian soil.

Residents of Addis Ababa flock to the streets to welcome the Eritrean delegation. "History is being made as we speak", Isaias said during a lunch hosted by Abiy.

The sight of the Eritrean leader speaking Amharic to reach out to Ethiopians surprised even his longtime acquaintances.

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Eritrea was once part of Ethiopia and comprised its entire coastline on the Red Sea until it voted for independence in 1993 after decades of bloody conflict. The decision, which hands some key disputed border areas to Eritrea, was Abiy's boldest move yet in a wave of reforms in which he aims to end anti-government protests in Africa's second most populous country, which has 100 million people. "I have known him for more than 40 yrs".

The of the state of war between the two countries has been praised by the United States and the United Nations The U.N. Security Council called it a "historic and significant development with far-reaching positive consequences for the Horn of Africa and beyond".

"The forced conscription of Eritreans, some as young as 15 or 16 years of age, is a shameful practice that has undermined the rights of thousands and created a generation of Eritrean refugees", said Seif Magango. Telephone links have opened, with some Ethiopians calling complete strangers in Eritrea just to say hello, and the first scheduled Ethiopian Airlines flights to Eritrea begin Wednesday.

The global community, including the United States, has embraced the reunion as a welcome development in a key, and often unstable, region along one of the world's busiest shipping lanes and across from the Arabian Peninsula.

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